Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Still Crazy After All These Years

From the Independent:

The proportion of British troops suffering post-conflict mental health problems is significantly lower than in the United States, where the numbers suffering psychological problems, according to varying studies, has been estimated at between 20 and 30 per cent.

The US forces have faced far more hostile action in Sunni areas, compared to the British- controlled Shia south. They also tend to be younger and more inexperienced, while their tours of duty are normally of a year's duration, rather than the standard six months for British forces.

While this should be of interest enough to Americans sending their daughters and sons overseas, along comes this report on MSNBC that widens this tragedy to an almost farcical end. Clip:
U.S. military troops with severe psychological problems have been sent to Iraq or kept in combat, even when superiors have been aware of signs of mental illness, a newspaper reported for Sunday editions...

Twenty-two U.S. troops committed suicide in Iraq last year, accounting for nearly one in five of all non-combat deaths and was the highest suicide rate since the war started, the newspaper said...

The Army’s top mental health expert, Col. Elspeth Ritchie, acknowledged that some deployment practices, such as sending service members diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome back into combat, have been driven in part by a troop shortage.

“The challenge for us ... is that the Army has a mission to fight. And, as you know, recruiting has been a challenge,” she said. “And so we have to weigh the needs of the Army, the needs of the mission, with the soldiers’ personal needs.”

And we lecture others on human rights...torture in prisons, exporting prisoners to be tortured, illegal detentions, illegal and unwarranted spying on the domestic populace, sending mentally ill soldiers into combat...how long before America seeks humility and begins to understand it's deeply hypocritical stance?

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